Washington column for May 9

2013 Baccalaureate

Baccalaureate ceremonies for graduating seniors remain a popular tradition at Rappahannock County High School. Last Sunday night (May 5) marked the school’s 63rd annual Baccalaureate, and family, friends and students crowded the auditorium for the special service.

Pastor Phil Bailey of the Washington Baptist Church served as the master of ceremonies and performed a job well done in my eyes.

Pastor Jeffrey Light speaks at Baccalaureate, while school Rev. Phil Bailey and school board chair John Lesinski (right) listen. Photo by Dolores Crooke.
Pastor Jeffrey Light speaks at Baccalaureate, while school Rev. Phil Bailey and school board chair John Lesinski (right) listen. Photo by Dolores Crooke.

The service consists of a series of speeches made to the graduating class. “The baccalaureate ceremony is a service of worship in celebration of thanksgiving for lives dedicated to learning and wisdom,” said Rappahannock County School Board chairman John Lesinski.

“Your faith will play a role in helping to guide you around the many roadblocks, speed bumps, detours and swamps on the way to finding your purpose. There will be many, and how you deal with them will define your life,” Lesinski said, advising students to “stay out of the ideological and uncompromising swamps and never stop in your quest to grow and learn . . . it is still possible to reach your purpose without surrendering your true north. Let your faith be a part of your compass.”

Definitely a speech that touched your heart.

School board vice chair Aline Johnson spoke about watching the class of 2013 grow before her eyes, noting that she first joined the school board when the current graduates were entering kindergarten and has watched them grow into “wonderful young men and women that we can all be proud of.”

Several things stood out in the speech by interim superintendent Kathleen Grove. She told the class to learn to be open to others’ ideas, that while you might not share the same views, something can almost always be gained from understanding them. “Many of the things I’ve learned in life came by being quiet and listening,” she said. “Whether it be at home, at work, or in our friendships, if we take the time to listen to and learn from each other, we can build powerful relationships and institutions.

“Follow your passion and be a risk taker, but, at the same time, analyze the risk and make smart choices,” Grove said. She encouraged the seniors to look at the big picture and see where they could plug in their passion. “There is a place for all of us. Don’t be afraid to try to stretch a little. The worst that will happen is you’ll learn something doesn’t work but maybe it will,” Grove said.

Rev. Jeffrey Light of Novum Baptist Church touched our hearts with his sermon, “To Live a Fruitful Life,” which was designed to encourage the students to seek their Creator and discover His love for them and His absolute desire for them to be fruitful (successful) in life. Pastor Jon Heddleston led the prayer.

Baccalaureate is an important opportunity for students to reflect on their lives, and they promote a sense of community. They reflect from a faith perspective, being given gifts from God and living out those gifts in the world in a faithful way.

Students Emily Joy Pearcy, Lyndie Rae Paul, Case McCabe Kramer and class valedictorian Britton Tyler Hipple gave speeches that made you search your own heart.

The RCHS Panther Band, led by substitute band director Jason T. Guira, performed. Then came the special moment for each senior to share the light from within in “The Ceremony of Light,” in which each graduating senior passes a candle to a younger student..

A touching moment for some: As I looked around the auditorium, tears were flowing down some of the parents’ cheeks. The whole service was inspiring and uplifting.

Closing out the evening, the Amissville Homemaker’s Association hosted a reception following the service – as they have for the previous 63 years.

Big hearts

A small crowd is led by Rev. Jon Heddleston in last week’s National Prayer Day ceremony around the courthouse flagpole. Photo by Jan Clatterbuck.
A small crowd is led by Rev. Jon Heddleston in last week’s National Prayer Day ceremony around the courthouse flagpole. Photo by Jan Clatterbuck.

A small crowd with big hearts gathered around the flagpole at the courthouse on Gay Street in Washington at noon last Thursday (May 2) to participate in the country’s annual observance of the National Day of Prayer.

Observed on the first Thursday in May, the National Day of Prayer dates back to 1779 (then on orders of Continental Army commander-in-chief George Washington); the event was formalized by Congress in 1952.

For the past five years, the event has been observed locally by citizens who gather beneath the American flag on the courthouse lawn in Washington. Prayers invoke God’s blessings on and wisdom for “pillars” of society – including God, marriage and family, education and schools, government and national leaders, military and service members.

Jon Heddleston, pastor of Sperryville’s Reynolds Memorial Baptist Church, drew on Psalm 33:12 to provide a Biblical foundation for the gathering: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

Trinity’s Haiti mission

Rev. Jennings Hobson leads a team of six church members to Trouin, Haiti starting today (May 9) through May 14 in support of St. Marc’s School. Hobson’s team includes Lorraine Duisit, translator and ambassador to the St. Marc French classes; Linda Brosgol, from the church’s outreach committee; and Ellie Young, the youth representative. The team will also include Bill Easton of Trinity Church/Upperville and Millie Lotto from Haitian Hope, which supports the secondary school at St. Marc. A long list of activities awaits the team when they arrive.

Let’s keep them in our thoughts and pray for their safe return.

Fond memories

For all of you wondering what the Washington Baptist Church has been doing to the church steeple over the past few weeks, know first that it was damaged by high winds in October during Hurricane Sandy. The church hired Master Metalworks in Stephens City to do the repairs. The copper roofing on top of the cupola had to be replaced, along with the flooring of the steeple structure beneath the church bell. (The bell, by the way, was built in 1883, and the sanctuary of the church in 1875.)

Frame repairs and painting will top off the project and the beautiful Italian-style steeple should be good to go for another 100 years, barring any more strong weather events. When lit, it can be seen for miles around and provide inspiration to the whole community.

Pastor Phil Bailey says every Sunday morning the bell rings to invite people to worship and also on such special occasions as weddings. I still fondly remember the bell ringing every Sunday morning when I was a child.

Birthday wishes

Belated birthday wishes go out to my grandson, Trey Singleton, who celebrated his special day Wednesday, May 1, and Amber Cooke, who celebrated her special day on Saturday (May 4). Wishes go out to my son, Jonathan, who will celebrate his day on Saturday, May 11.

Derby yard sale

Plan an early visit to Sperryville this Saturday (May 11) to check out what the “Friends of the Derby” have to offer at their yearly fundraising yard sale, being held on the grounds of the Sperryville Schoolhouse from 8 to 1 p.m. Organizer Thom Pellikaan stopped by the office on Monday to share that many local donors have been very generous in supplying items unusual for a “country” yard sale that will be priced to sell. All proceeds benefit Rappahannock County-sponsored cars. Young derby drivers and some cars will be on display.

Special day for mothers

Sunday (May 12) is Mother’s Day, and although we celebrate it only once a year, we don’t need a special day to show our gratitude to our mother. Let her know that she is loved and is the best person on this whole earth this Sunday.

Let us all make sure that we take time from the hustle and bustle of our lives to thank the women who gave us life. As the lyricist Howard Johnson once wrote:

M is for the million things she gave me;
O means only that she’s growing old;
T is for the tears she shed to save me;
H is for her heart of purest gold;
E is for her eyes, with love-light shining,
R means right, and right she’ll always be.
Put them all together, they spell “MOTHER,”
A word that means the world to me.

Remember how wonderful your mom was to you? Wouldn’t this be an excellent time to tell her that you love her?

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe it to my wonderful angel mother. Happy Mother’s Day to all!